It really is possible to get slim eating all the foods you love, says Sam Pease, who lost 28 kilos and has kept them off for five years.
After years of failed diets, she succeeded by eating all the foods she loved – just less of them. Now she’s written a how-to book called Eat Less Crap, Lose That Fat.
“Before I created this diet I was fat and confused,” she says. “I was desperate to lose weight but nothing worked. Every time I failed on a diet I felt sad, then I’d hate myself for not even being able to do something as simple as not eating cheese, and soon I was in a vicious, food-stuffing spiral.”
Pease decided to study slim people. She stalked two in her life and noticed that they ate less than she did, their fitness regimen involved walking to the car parked in the driveway and – the big one – they rarely sat down.
She devised her 55-point plan to get slim without going on diet and exercising – simply by making small changes. Here are just 10 of her tips:
1. Don’t put bad food at eye level.
“The middle gaze-and-graze shelves in my fridge were like a delicatessen – full of bread, meat, butter and cheese. My freezer was full of foods I could heat and eat within five minutes. I rearranged my fridge, pantry and freezer and now I put fruit, veggies and clever snacks where I can see them. Another tip – never take a bag of whatever it is you are eating to the couch – fill a small bowl and eat slowly.”
2. Is your car a picnic table?
“I was the queen of the secret car picnic, buying food from Drive Thru 1 and eating it on the way to Drive Thru 2. Stop eating in the car. If you are on the road and have to eat, don’t do it behind the wheel. Park somewhere with a pretty outlook for 5 to 10 minutes.
“Get out, eat standing up. Or park your car, walk into a store, order less than you normally would and just eat half.”
3. Excuse emperor
“Fat people are good at excuses: ‘I have a slow metabolism’, ‘I deserve a treat’, ‘I’m too tired to eat well’, ‘I can’t lose the baby weight’, ‘Even though I am big, I am healthy’. Take responsibility for your weight and understand that if you are fat, you’re eating too much and not moving enough.”
4. Sick of being sick
“When I was a jelly belly, I was constantly ill. I had vertigo, headaches, insomnia, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue and other problems. I had complete lack of self-awareness about my own body. I was eating bad food, not sleeping enough, drinking and smoking too much on the weekend, sedentary and had post-natal depression. Discovering I could manage my own health changed my life. When I feel run-down and drained, I eat some vegetable soup, add a bit of cheese, salt and pepper and follow with a glass of vegetable juice.”
5. I hate exercise – so I don’t
“You don’t need to ‘exercise’ for 30 minutes a day. Who has the time? Just 10 minutes of creative mini movements a day is enough to lose weight. Get up and move when watching TV, swop your sitting office desk for a standing one, leave your desk and walk around the building, get off public transport a stop earlier or park further from the building; stand when you send a text, when you talk on the phone walk around, sweep the floor instead of vacuuming, fold washing while standing, weed a patch in your garden, clean the bath, dance with your kids – it all adds up.”
6. Eat less, fit your dress
“At one point I was demolishing a kilo of pizza at a sitting – no wonder I was fat. Your hands are the key to portion sizes. Your fist is the size of a cup – look at your next meal and see how many cups of food you are packing away. Palm size is the size the meaty portion of your meal should be. Snacks should be a small handful, around 28g. The tip of your thumb is around 1 teaspoon, roughly what you should aim for with cooking fats, sugar, butter and mayonnaise.
“I switched dessert spoons for teaspoons, dinner plates for lunch plates and dessert bowls for ramekins. If we dish up less we eat less.”
7. Watch your mouth
“If you eat three biscuits a day over the course of a year, you will gain four-and-a-half kilos. Over a decade you’ll be 45kg heavier. Practise nibbling – it feels weird at first but it works. If I want a chocolate, I either nibble two bars that are about the size of two or three pieces of chocolate or I eat a few bites and throw the rest away.
“There is no point in ‘saving the rest for tomorrow’ – that will never happen.”
“It’ll be demolished within an hour. Ditch it before you finish it.”
8. Night fright
“The later you eat, the fatter you get. I used to snack after dinner; sometimes I’d eat another entire meal. I became an expert at eating messy foods in bed without ruining my clean white sheets. For most of us, dinner is our main meal, then we sit around on our butts. If you want to get slim easily, eat earlier. Five nights out of 10, I am done before it is dark in winter and before 6.30pm in summer. Even moving your meal 30 minutes earlier will make a difference.”
9. Mind the mall
“Malls are convenient. They’re weatherproof, parking is easy and you can get a quick, cheap meal. The downside is that malls serve ridiculously large portions and there’s a lot of bad food that can be hard to avoid. I used to love food courts, aisles of luscious fatty options within a few steps.
“ I began a search for foods that would not make me fatter without compromising on my desire for flavour, grease, succulence and crunch.”
10. Social snacking
“A dinner party or function can be tough. Back away from the canapes, no matter how delicious they look. Even if you say you’ll have just a few, that never happens.
“Shared lunches, office parties and birthday teas can be calorie-complex and full of people encouraging you to eat.
“Say: ‘I’ll have some later’ or excuse yourself to make a fake phone call.
“If you must eat, ask for a quarter, or an eighth, or a sliver of a slice, saying ‘I’m not hungry, but it looks so good I have to taste it!’ Then smile and change the subject.”
Eat Less Crap, Lose That Fat by Sam Pease (Struik Lifestyle, R180).